PTSD and forgiveness
Dear Annie: Your recent column signed by "Blamed for Bedlam" struck a chord with me, and I'd like to share my story.
For 60 years, my brother and I were the closest of friends. He is godfather to my children, and you could even say he was a "soul father" to them as well. With my mom, we were a very close-knit family unit. I am in my mid-60s now. My mom lived with my husband and me, and our children, until she reached the age of 93.
Our home was the hub of parties and family reunions. It was always packed with people and love, and my brother, single at the time, was a daily visitor. You should know that we both had suffered a trauma when we were young, when we lost a sibling when we were in our early 20s.
But later in life, my brother changed. Something triggered resentment toward me -- and everyone we knew. He wrote a book about the family, in which I was figured as the mean, manipulative, abusive sister. He cut links with my children. He removed us from his Facebook "friends," and he refused to answer my phone calls or to call back. I was at a loss, just like those parents are at a loss with their son. I know he panics when he sees me; I know he says that "he needs space." However, if anyone needed space, it was me when he was dropping in daily, and I never thought of even asking for that.
I had started blaming myself for things I did not do. I just did not understand. At a loss, I went to a group here in Montreal that helps people cope with family members who have emotional and mental illness. They saved my life. They explained that he had had a trauma at a young age, followed by other traumas, and, being the sensitive soul he is, this triggered PTSD, or, in my brother's case, borderline personality issues. I was told to take care of myself. I was told not to blame myself. I was also told to protect myself and refuse to be emotionally manipulated.
In short, please have mercy on his parents who must be at such a loss and in so much pain. Please direct them to see a family therapist to help them cope with this sudden, uncalled for, radical metamorphosis of their son. Let them not blame themselves, and let them know that by following the advice of this group, I came out strong. My brother and I are on much better terms. He still forgets and hurts me. But he is in touch with my children, my husband, my friends and our cousins. I have even become his friend on Facebook! And at the end, love wins. We love, forgive and, with time, forget. --Forgiving and Forgetting
Dear Forgiving: Congratulations on repairing your relationship with your brother. Healthy and strong family relationships are a gift and can serve to strengthen our own self-esteem and sense of love and support in the world. I am printing your letter to show others who are going through similar situations that they are not alone, that there is hope and that being patient can be a gift. Your group therapy sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com/for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to mailto:email@example.com